The furious clerics

He did it in broad daylight, laid down his weapon and gave the reason for his actions on the spot. He was still at the scene of the crime, locked up in a police van, when the media rushed over. And within a couple of hours, his unsettlingly serene smiling face was beamed to viewers all over the world. So the confession that he made to a judicial magistrate yesterday did not make much of a difference apart from filling a procedural requirement. He said he had made up his mind to commit the crime after attending a religious gathering in Rawalpindi.The certainty of his crime is matched by the certainty that the blasphemy laws will remain unchanged. The Prime Minister said so the other day at a press conference. A similar statement has been repeatedly made by the law minister. The interior minister has gone one step further by saying not only will the said laws remain unchanged but that he will personally shoot (that’s right, shoot) anyone who commits blasphemy in front of him. The secular parties-dominated KP assembly has moved a resolution to the same effect.

Why, it has to be posited then, is there so much hue and cry by the parties of the religious right? What need, really, of the mammoth rallies like the one in Karachi? After all, everything is going their way. The liberal political parties have thrown in the towel; never were going to put up a fight anyway. The civil society is busy preaching to the choir on social media or the pages of the boutique English press. The clergy should be in smug indifference right about now.Perhaps the liberals have to resign themselves to the fact that the silent liberal majority does not, in fact, exist. At least not in the way it has been thought. This is no time to being showing self-righteous indignation. Efforts have to be made to ensure that the said laws are not misused against the weak and the disenfranchised. That the letter of the law and due process are carried out only by the state. That vigilantism on account of the spirit of these laws is actually effectively penalised or, better still, classified as blasphemy itself – PT